It’s been no secret that many UK consumers have opted conduct their shopping online, due to the Coronavirus pandemic that has heavily affected livelihoods and retailers.
As a result of the pandemic, retailers have had to deal with a huge demands as high-street shops were forced to close during the early stages of lockdown and consumer confidence at a low as they seek to return to ‘normal life’. Online orders have become the norm and some retailers have had to alter their strategies to keep consumers happy and keep their business going.
Despite this period being difficult for the economy and businesses in general, there is growing optimism amongst those in Ecommerce.
A recent study conducted by Barclays Corporate Banking, conducted a study of over 300 senior retail executives to see how they have been adapting to changes.
26% of those surveyed think the pandemic has accelerated a "technological revolution" in retail.
According to Barclays, the UK is the world’s third-largest market for Ecommerce. Many businesses have turned towards technology during lockdown in a bid to keep business running smoothly. A third (33%) of retailers have had website upgrades, 32% have started to accept new payment methods, and one in four (26%) have begun using data analytics for the first time.
Although the UK government has begun lifting restrictions to get the economy moving as well as the trust and confidence of the public, there is still uncertainty around shopping in-store. To help reduce queues in-store, 24% of retailers have started offering click-and-collect options. 40% of DIY and home improvement retailers have introduced this during lockdown.
The home improvement category is also the most confident of growth in the short-term, with four 80% positive about revenue growth in the next three months. This compares to an industry average of 60%. 94% of retail industry bosses are optimistic about growth opportunities in the next year.
Karen Johnson, head of retail and wholesale for Barclays Corporate Banking feels that although the last few months have been challenging for retailers, she feels there is reason for retailers to be optimistic about the future.
Almost three in 10 retail businesses (28%) plan to do more to support local communities, while a fifth (20%) believe the future of retail is in local high streets rather than city centres. Feedback from the survey suggests that as homeworking looks to continue for many, city centres won’t be as busy, resulting in more business being localised.
“The last few months have undoubtedly been challenging for the sector, and we are hearing frequent news of jobs being put at risk.
“Against that backdrop, however, Ecommerce and digital sales have demonstrated significant improvement and have helped to maintain YoY growth for many businesses. Despite the unprecedented uncertainty and disruption, the results of our survey are encouraging, and it is great to see retail leaders confident about their prospects. Many are using the ‘new normal’ to innovate and adapt their business models.”
"We could also see the number of urban outlets fall further in the longer term, with one in five of respondents (20%) telling us they see the future of the physical retail industry on local high streets rather than in city centres," adds Karen.